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Eaton Slips Back On 2nd Day But Relishes The Experience In Berlin

By Steve Ritchie - Special to the Bend Bulletin
August 20, 2009
Trey Hardee

BERLIN - After a surprisingly strong first day, which he ended in fifth place, Bend's Ashton Eaton ran into some adversity on the second and final day of the decathlon competition on Thursday at the World Track & Field Championships in Berlin, Germany.

Eaton ended up with a score of 8,061 points, which was good for a 17th place finish. The event ­ and unofficial title of "World's Greatest All-Around Athlete" ­ went to Eaton's U.S. teammate Trey Hardee, who had a huge second day to win the decathlon with a new personal best of 8,790 points.

Ashton Eaton

The adversity came early on the second day for Eaton. "It started off with kind of like a little speed bump," he said, referring to the first two events of the day. "The hurdles weren't so great, and the discus wasn't so great." Eaton was well shy of his personal bests in both events, and he quickly found himself back in 11th place with just three events to go. He bounced back in the next event, the pole vault, clearing 16 feet, 4 3/4 inches, a mark that is very near his personal best, but he was unable to improve his overall standing. Even more significantly, four hours of vaulting in the 90+ degree heat of the day took a toll on him physically.

"Pole vault is when it was getting hot. I was getting tired. All the guys were getting tired . . . it was ridiculous." After pole vault came javelin, and Eaton had a slow start. Following two superb throws, Eaton managed to salvage a decent score in the javelin, when he threw 166 feet 10 inches on his last throw. But he found himself drained when the final event, the 1500 meters, finally got going at 10:20 pm, more than 12 hours after the event started for the second day in a row. "By the time the 1500 came around, I was just happy to be there with the guys and happy to be getting it done. I still wanted to get over 8,000 points, though."

Ashton Eaton

Eaton was able to put his performance into perspective following the competition, saying, "It felt good just being here and the fact I got over 8,000 points again . . . that's good for me, especially this late in the year." He admitted that he felt "so much relief" to have this event ­ and his very long season ­ finally come to an end, and said he was planning "to go camping and sit around" when he gets home.

The decathlon took place on a momentous day at the championship meet, which is being held at Berlin's Olympic Stadium. 74,000 fans filled the stands for the evening session, and the crowd was into the competition from start to finish. Usain Bolt¹s new world record of 19.19 seconds in the 200 meters was the major story, but there were many other highlights on this warm August night.

The women's high jump was coming to a conclusion while Eaton was competing in the javelin and he said he was amazed at the response of the crowd. One of the jumpers, Arianne Friederich of Germany, motioned for the crowd to be silent during her jump, and, instantly, you could hear a pin drop, followed by an explosion of cheering for a clearance. With all the events finished except the 1500 meters of the decathlon, almost no one left the stadium.

When Eaton and the other 34 competitors took to the track in two heats, they were cheered every step of the way. It was an experience Eaton will never forget. "Internationally, the decathlon is such a big deal . . . people really respect (what we do). It's just awesome."

 
 

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